University system plans $1.2 million investment in statewide student financial literacy

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FARMINGTON — The University of Maine System plans to invest $1.2 million to expand the University of Maine at Farmington’s successful Peer-to-Peer Financial Literacy Program across the state’s seven public universities.

Eventually, it will make peer-based financial education available through partnerships with community colleges and local schools.

The five-year expansion would train students throughout the system as peer financial educators who initially would deliver financial literacy programming and resources to other college students.

When fully implemented, the program would grow to include further outreach efforts to middle, high school and community college students in an attempt to instill the habits and awareness needed to make informed decisions about personal finances and to avoid excessive debt.

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The Peer-to-Peer Financial Literacy Program provides one-on-one and group money management sessions and student loan default prevention guidance.

Begun in 2013, the UMF pilot program trained students to help their peers gain a better understanding of their finances. Over the course of the program, a core group of six peer educators reached more than 1,000 students, providing a wide array of assistance.They also interacted with counselors, advisers, teachers, students and administrators from secondary schools around the state.

According to a recent report by American Student Assistance, financial education programs empower students and alumni to make smarter financial decisions and to foster management skills that last a lifetime.

The $1.26 million investment to expand the Peer-to-Peer Financial Literacy project across Maine includes a $901,000 award from the Standard & Poor’s Settlement Fund administered by the Office of Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and $359,000 in student employment funds and overhead support from the University of Maine at Farmington. 

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